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Full text of "My Country And My People"

EPILOGUE

I. THE END OF LIFE

IN the general survey of Chinese art and Chinese life, the
conviction must have been forced upon us that the Chinese
are past masters in the art of living. There is a certain whole-
hearted concentration on the material life, a certain zest in
living, which is mellower, perhaps deeper, anyway just as
intense as in the West. In China the spiritual values have not
been separated from the material values, but rather help man
in a keener enjoyment of life as it falls to our lot. This accounts
for our joviality and our incorrigible humour. A heathen can
have a heathenish devotion to the life of the present and
envelop both spiritual and material values in one outlook, which
it is difficult for a Christian to imagine. We live the life
of the senses and the life of the spirit at the same moment, and
see no necessary conflict. For the human spirit is used to
beautify life, to extract its essence, perhaps to help it overcome
ugliness and pain inevitable in the world of our senses, but
never to escape from it and find its meaning in a life hereafter.
When Confucius said, in reply to a question by a disciple on
death, "Don't know life—how know death?" he expressed there
a somewhat bourgeois, unmetaphysical and practical attitude
toward the problems of life and knowledge which has charac-
terized our national life and thinking.

This standpoint establishes for us a certain scale of values*
In every aspect of knowledge and of living, the test of life holds.
It accounts for our pleasures and our antipathies. The test of
life was with us a racial thought, wordless and needing no
definition or giving of reasons* It was that test of life which,
instinctively I think, guided us to distrust civic civilization and
uphold the rural ideal in art, life and letters, to dislike religion
in our rational moments, to play with Buddhism but never
quite accept its logical conclusions, and to hate mechanical

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